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Tipton makes a comeback

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Well, well.  I have been away from the computer most of the day today, which is why I haven't updated the news section and what-not.  But over at his blog FireBilly.com, Fake Gimel has pointed me to the latest Jerry Tiption article on the tough-guy coaching tactics apparently employed by the UK men's basketball coach.

In my earlier missive, I took great umbrage with Tipton for a lack of balance in his article.  Evidently, he took that criticism to heart (maybe not from me -- lots of others have made the same point about his earlier piece).  Unlike his earlier article, this one had excellent balance throughout, and did not bury the good side amongst the bad.  I think it paints a picture of a coach who lacks a certain amount of "people skills," as Dusty Mills said in a quote in the article, but also of a man who understands that to excel at anything, you have to be willing to be taken out of your comfort zone.  That is what it takes to really go to the next level of anything, and Gillispie seems to have a complete grasp of that fact.  Most people don't like to be forced out of their comfort zone -- that's why they call it a "comfort zone" -- and Gillispie is going to do it, whether you want him to or not.

Gillispie's curt style is not for the faint of heart, and it may rub many the wrong way.  I am not backing down on my earlier remarks about how he handled the Mills situation, but Tipton does a very good job in this article giving us a look at the gruff, no-nonsense coach from a perspective that is not nearly as inimical as his earlier report.  In Tipton's latest, we see Gillispie not only through the eyes of the disgruntled Mills, but also through the eyes of young men who would crawl over broken glass to play for him.  That brings us around to the other side of the argument that was missing from Tipton's first effort, and the picture now doesn't look nearly as dire and unforgiving as before, when we only saw the ugly parts.

This is a classic example of how a good writer will create balance without minimizing honest criticism:

The UK coach's methods, which prompt words such as "demeaning" and "negativity" from detractors, cause others to sing his praise. Josh Johnston found the experience as a walk-on for Gillispie's last UTEP team so rewarding he followed the coach to Texas A&M and walked on there. He described a Billy G. who bore little resemblance to the man who dismissed Mills from UK's team with a terse "You're done" shortly after Kentucky's flight from Vanderbilt touched down at 2 a.m. last week.
That is very well done.  A bad situation is balanced by another young man who overcame the very same scenario, and was so enamored with Gillispie's coaching style he followed him from one school to another as a walk-on.  It doesn't force you to draw the conclusion that Mills is a crybaby, but it does make you wonder what the other guy had that Mills didn't.  The two situations are exactly analogous, and nicely prevent the implied negative of Mills from being the only thing you have to think about.

In my humble opinion, and I am by no means an expert, this is one of the better pieces I can ever remember Jerry Tipton writing.  He took the time to detail all sides of the issue and the editors gave him the freedom to explore it to the depth necessary to get it right.  For my money, this is a nice piece of sports journalism, and I am very glad Tipton wrote it.  My opinion of him, which had nose-dived after his last article is now back were it was.  Redemption can come in many forms, and nothing is sweeter than redeeming oneself after a mistake.  Tipton probably doesn't think of it in those terms, but I do.

So kudos, Jerry Tipton.  You done good in this one.  It is an honest, no-holds barred look at the coach with the balance such an essay requires.  It's good journalism, and in my book, praiseworthy.  More, please.

Update [2008-2-22 17:31:33 by TheFakeGimelMartinez]: Fixed the broken link to my article.